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Wycombe Wanderers 2
Tuesday 20th December 2005
LDV Vans Trophy - Southern Area Q/F
Charlie Griffin - two goals at The Bescot StadiumWanderers were dumped out of the LDV Vans Trophy for another season after going down 3-2 at Walsall at the Southern Area Quarter-Final stage. The defeat came after Charlie Griffin had given Wycombe a 6th minute lead when he swept home Kevin Betsy's cross from the right flank. However, the home side hit back with goals by James Constable and Julian Bennett to lead 2-1 at the break. Wycombe then fought their way back into the game and equalised on 83 minutes when Griffin scored his second of the evening. But as the tie looked to be heading for extra-time, it was Jorge Leitao who shattered Wanderers' dreams of getting closer to the final when with three minutes of normal time remaining he sent a right-footed shot into the back of the Wycombe net after Alex Nicholls had laid the ball back.
John Gorman, who had expressed his desire to win this competition, was forced to field a weakened side for the tie with The Saddlers. Steve Williams played in goal as Frank Talia was given time to recover from a shoulder injury that almost forced him out of the previous Saturday's game at Bury. Sergio Torres, who picked up a groin strain at Bury, was moved to the bench and Rob Lee is rested. Elsewhere Joe Burnell remained absent with his calf injury with Stefan Oakes still a couple of weeks away from playing again following his broken arm. Returned loanee Ian Stonebridge was also unfit but like Oakes is expected to be available for the Wanderers over the important holiday period. Those issues saw starts for both Russell Martin and Mark Philo while Youth Teamers Ikechi Anya and Steven Gregory were are on the bench. It was 18 year old Gregory's first involvement in a First Team squad during his final scholarship year.
Griffin's opener came after Matt Bloomfield had fed Kevin Betsy on the right flank who then squared for Griffin to sweep the ball home on the turn. But Walsall, who went into this match following six straight home victories equalise in the 17th minute when ex-Colchester United midfielder Mark Kinsella brought the ball forward for the home side, who then found Craig Pead on the right whose centre was partially cleared by Roger Johnson but only as far as Walsall debutant James Constable who fired the ball high into the back of Williams' net. Williams was making his first senior start for the Wanderers since the LDV tie at Aldershot in September 2004.
Five minutes later the home side had taken the lead when a corner from the left by Kris Taylor was sent low to the near post. The ball then found its way back to Taylor who then redelivered it into the danger area where Julian Bennett was allowed space to direct his header low past Williams.
Wycombe could have gone further behind on 29 minutes but Williams did well to save an effort from Michael Standing after a cross from Matt Fryatt. A brief spell of pressure from Wycombe before the interval then gave hope for the travelling contingent. Tommy Mooney saw a snap shot saved on 42 minutes and a couple of minutes later he had a 'goal' ruled out after he was adjudged to have fouled Pead on the edge of the penalty before firing past Joe Murphy in the Walsall goal.
The second-half also began with encouraging signs for the Wanderers but it was further saves from Williams that kept Wycombe in the game as the tie entered the final ten minutes. The equaliser came after Mooney crossed from the right for Griffin to head home. However, thoughts of another dramatic victory were wiped out with three minutes left on the clock when Williams' high clearance was fed back forward by Nicholls to Leitao whose clinical finish gave Williams little chance.
Final Score Walsall 3 Wycombe 2
Wycombe: Williams, Senda, Easton, Williamson, Johnson, Betsy, Philo (sub 67 Torres), Martin, Bloomfield, Mooney, Griffin - subs not used: Talia, Anya, Dixon, Gregory
Bookings: Senda (foul 79)
Scorers: Griffin (6, 83)
Walsall: Murphy, Pead, Gerrard, Roper, Bennett, Leitao, Standing, Kinsella (sub 81 Bradley), Taylor, Fryatt, Constable (sub 72 Nicholls) - subs not used: Oakes, Westwood, Osborn
Bookings: Bennett (foul 39)
Scorers: Constable (17), Bennett (22), Leitao (87)
Referee: Mr M Fletcher Attendance: 2,571 (approx 200 away end)
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